Like every good parent, I want my child to succeed. Like every parent, I want him to navigate through life and work in a career that he finds rewarding and allows him to become a productive member of society. I want him to enjoy his chosen field and have a quality of life that he and, for that matter, all of our children should have available to them. My son began studies at Memorial University this fall and has indicated that he wants to pursue a career as an educator. I’m proud of him for making that decision. I look forward to seeing him progress through his studies and position himself to take on the career of his choosing.
But I also realize that there are challenges ahead for him as he embarks on that career path. I would love to have him settle in this province. No parent wants to have their children leave. If the government of this province wants to recruit and retain educators, then there needs to be tangible measures taken to make that happen. Our teacher graduates, our province’s teachers, are welcomed in jurisdictions from across the country and around the globe. Our province must compete with other provinces and countries in terms of compensation, working conditions, and, in some cases, living conditions in order to attract and keep those individuals. I am aware of, and been in contact with, a number of teachers who have chosen to leave the province as a result of concerns with the degree to which those factors were being addressed or not addressed. The loss of young professionals from any province is problematic. In our province, acutely so!
There are a number of changes that need to happen for our province’s schools. The Education Action Plan had some good first steps. There are measures that have the potential to produce positive impacts on the delivery of education to our students. But more needs to be done. Part of determining the need must involve consulting with those who know education best – our members. As part of the consultation there needs to be a review of the Teacher Allocation Model. This was supposed to be done in 2011. It is long overdue. Ask anyone attached to our schools about the impacts larger class sizes have had. Ask those same individuals about the impacts of a reduction in administrator allocations. Ask about how a forced integration of students with special needs, without adequate supports, has affected student learning. The answers to all of these questions will have a common theme. These measures have reduced the quality of the delivery of education.
As you are reading this you would be aware of our “Class Size Matters” initiative. A memo has been sent out as well as a video message and Class Size Matters buttons. We know that a measure that can be taken to start improving our delivery to students should be a reduction in class size. It’s very much a common sense notion that the larger the class size, the less that students have their needs met. Investment in education provides a pathway, perhaps the most reliable pathway, for our province to move to the better tomorrow all of us want. I urge all of you to display that button and to let those in our circles know that “Class Size Matters”. In my role as President I am your spokesperson. I am asking that you assist me in reinforcing the message that class size matters – to you as teachers, to our schools, but more importantly, for our students!
Until next time.